BE Blogs: A Voice for Responsible Business

As part of our sustainability pledge to discuss best practices openly and honestly, we share insights that allow others to effect change in their community. While companies have responsibility to drive change internally, we believe they also can add to their insights and impact by sharing their experience with others.

Come by often to read the latest news, subscribe to our blog via email or RSS reader. Even better, join the conversation and share your ideas on how business can be a force for good in your community and environment.

Destination Sustainability: How to Tell Your Story

Jul 15, 2010   //   by Colin Manuel   //   Leadership, Marketing & Communication  //  No Comments

You get it. After months of meetings, debate and analysis, you’re finally taking your first steps toward becoming a more socially and environmentally responsible company. Now that you’ve charted a course, how will you share your motivations and actions with the world?

Why You Should Communicate Early and Often

  1. Gain credibility by sharing the good and the bad – MolsonCoors recently announced the results of their sustainability initiative.  Compared to the year prior, MolsonCoors increased water use by 3%, but lowered emissions by 15%. This is exactly the kind of honest self-evaluation that lends you credibility.
  2. Grow your impact by inspiring others by your example – Many say that Patagonia wrote the book on sustainable business. Today, Patagonia is teaching Wal-Mart how to apply their sustainability practices on a larger scale. Who can you partner with as either teacher or pupil?
  3. Attract investors passionate about sustainable businesses – When it comes to long-term return, shareholders increasingly turn to sustainable businesses. Socially and environmentally responsible companies offer lower risks compared to “business-as-usual” firms.

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No Excuses: Start Sharing your Sustainability Story Today

Jul 13, 2010   //   by Colin Manuel   //   Company Culture, Leadership, Marketing & Communication  //  No Comments

Perfection is an illusion, so share your sustainable business goals todayWhy do we wait to talk about a goal until we’re close to achieving it? If you’ve ever struggled with a diet or fallen back into a bad habit, you probably already know how the strategy works. By keeping goals to yourself, it’s much easier to let things slide when something doesn’t go according to plan. Companies launch sustainability initiatives in the same way.

By waiting to announce goals until they’re close at hand, many companies believe they’ve lowered their risk of failure. In reality, they’ve lowered their chance of success.

3 Excuses to Avoid at All Cost

When you’re starting your sustainability journey, your company can’t afford to believe these excuses:

Excuse #1 – “We’re just getting started. Customers will question our commitment to real change when we’ve only taken a few steps.”

Excuse #2 – “Shareholders will see community engagement as a frivolous expense and invest their money elsewhere.”

Excuse #3 – “Critics will hound us for “greenwashing” if we fail to reach our destination.”

Be Heard: Spread the Word Early and Often

Transparency is a hallmark of a sustainable company. By communicating your goals openly and frequently, you’ll gain much more credibility in the eyes of consumers. You may even find help from unexpected places.  Being open and honest throughout your effort will ensure that your work has value.

Sustainability: More Familiar than you Realize

Jun 1, 2010   //   by Colin Manuel   //   Marketing & Communication  //  No Comments

Sustainability is more familiar than you realizeWhat stops action faster than a planning committee? Fear of the unknown. A little familiarity goes a long way when it comes to getting buy-in on a problem. By connecting past experience with present problems, you can steer your leadership to a more environmentally and socially responsible way of doing business.

Connect past experience with present challenges

If you look around your company, chances are that you’ll find someone who experienced the rise of Information Technology or Total Quality Management in the workplace. At the time, business leaders had difficulty justifying investment and changing attitudes for as-of-yet unproven benefits. Sound familiar?

Having faced these now familiar issues, business leaders feel more comfortable and confident to tackle similar problems.

Business, Environment & Society

If you think sustainability is a fringe fad, think again. From food and worker safety to your company’s environmental impact — today’s consumers, shareholders and governments expect more than short-term profits. And we believe this BusinessEarth approach will result in significant long-term shareholder value.

Sustainability: Have we met before?

In the Harvard Business Review article “The Sustainability Imperative”, authors David Lubin and Daniel Esty describe sustainability as the next Megatrend:

“Sustainability is an emerging business megatrend, like electrification and mass production, that will profoundly affect companies’ competitiveness and even their survival.”

Other megatrends included the shift to IT in the 1970s, Total Quality Management in the 1980s and Lean Manufacturing in the 1990s. While most every company eventually adopted these practices, visionaries at the leading edge claimed a competitive advantage for years to come.

Past is Present: Get visionary

When cost cutting was all the rage, Toyota focused on maximizing quality. In the 1970s, the immediate returns weren’t that obvious. But leaders believed in it and continued to take incremental steps toward systemic change.

Swimming against the current is always difficult. However, if you paint a picture of the rewards awaiting bold leadership, you’re much more likely to make a departure from business as usual in a way that proves profitable for all.

3 steps to engage your leadership in sustainable business

  1. Explore the past – Ask decision makers how they handled past Megatrends. Listen closely so you can find parallels to today’s movement toward socially and environmentally responsible business.
  2. Connect past to present – Ask leadership if they can see any modern-day equivalent to their past experience. Ask leading questions so that the “sustainability epiphany” can be theirs. This ownership will increase their dedication to a successful outcome.
  3. Tailor to your situation – Some leaders possess a bias toward action AND strong perceptive skills. If you’re lucky enough to find both in your decision makers, great. If not, ask yourself where you need to tailor your approach to fit the specific needs of your industry and company.

Once you’ve opened the door to engagement, work together to form a vision that leadership can share with the rest of the company.

Did we miss anything? How have you used past experience to help others make sense of present-day problems?

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